|Tim McElligott Blog|
Freedom Is the Legacy of the Communications Industry
I took my hand from my heart, sat back down in my lounge chair with not one but two beer-cup holders and put my Callaway cap back on my head. My friend regarded me quizzically. "Who memorizes the Declaration of Independence?" he said.
"Who memorizes the Act of Contrition?" I replied.
We all hold our own truths, some more self-evident than others. It's a short list, but my biggies are safety and happiness as mentioned in the rather famous document above, a document we celebrate the signing of this week. Liberty tops that list.
Around this time of year, my very favorite time of year, I start pondering these essential truths and I wonder what role our industry has played in enabling and protecting them or perhaps curtailing them as it continues to evolve. When I ponder, my fingers automatically find a keyboard and the result of their haphazard keystrokes was this statement given by Google's director of public policy at this year's Internet at Liberty 2012: Promoting Progress and Freedom: "We believe that the ability to freely express ourselves is a shared value that crosses oceans, national borders, culture and history. While there is never a bad time to discuss values, this is a particularly good time, a crucial year for the cause of Internet freedom, a year when the idea that information and data should flow freely across borders is under assault."
That it is. Since 2010, 120 million more people live in countries that systematically filter online content, Boorstin said.
Google has not always appeared to stand tall in the face of that assault. It appears to have chosen business over principle on more than one occasion in this regard. But I think their policies have been as least as tactical as they have been about the business. We finally learned during the Revolutionary War that standing on opposite sides of a field and advancing on each other at point blank range is no way to fight a war. It is no way to launch an assault nor to combat one. You have to infiltrate. And you have to win hearts and minds if victory is to be lasting. Giving people at least of taste of freedom, even if only of expression, is often enough to light the fire of revolution. And eventually freedom will always win.
Freedom and familiarity are this industry's true gifts to the world. And Google has done as much as anyone to put a nice big bow on it. So every explosion of fireworks I see this week I am going to imagine it is freedom bursting through every border and every mule-headed division within borders. And I'm going to salute every industry techie from Alexander Graham Bell to Bob Boorstin for making it happen.
Happy Independence Day to those techies in the U.S. and congratulations to all those around the world who get why they do what they do.
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